Evan Corcoran, Trump’s attorney, assured Christina Bobb that a comprehensive search had been undertaken. A lawyer for Donald Trump told federal investigators that a second attorney assured her he had searched thoroughly at Mar-a-Lago before asking her to certify that all government records requested in a subpoena had been returned, an individual familiar with the investigation said.
Two months later, when the FBI investigated the Florida estate and discovered boxes of National Archives-owned presidential archives and sensitive materials, Christina Bobb’s certification was compromised. Friday’s encounter between Ms. Bobb and Justice Department investigators represented the latest development in the dispute between the former president and the government about missing data.
Since the search in August, federal authorities have continued to wonder whether they have all the papers from the Trump administration that should be in government hands due to classification or regulations governing the handling of presidential records.
According to sources familiar with the situation, authorities focus on more than 70 empty files; some marked classified, recovered from Mar-a-Lago along with more than 20 cartons. Moreover, federal investigators have raised concerns over whether Mr. Trump carried documents from Mar-a-Lago to New York and New Jersey, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Sources say that Ms. Bobb revealed fresh information regarding the sequence of events that resulted in August’s search, including her interactions with Evan Corcoran, another legal team member. She claimed she met Mr. Corcoran for the first time on June 3, the day she claims he asked her to certify that “all relevant papers” had been returned.
According to two individuals with knowledge of the situation, Ms. Bobb signed the document only after asking that it contain the phrases “based on the facts presented to me” and “to the best of my knowledge.”
Ms. Bobb’s allegation might put Mr. Corcoran in legal peril, as he gave Justice Department officials a folder containing sensitive papers on June 3. Mr. Corcoran informed Ms. Bobb, who was not previously engaged in processing the records that he had undertaken a comprehensive check of Mar-a-Lago storage spaces, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. This individual stated that Mr. Corcoran could not function as the official custodian of the papers and sign a certification since he was engaged in the document transfer.
The Justice Department has stated in court documents that it has discovered evidence of obstruction of its investigation, adding that data were likely buried and taken from a storage room during the ongoing inquiry.
According to a source close to Ms. Bobb, she met with prosecutors freely. John Lauro represents her in court. During the search on August 8, agents removed 11,000 papers from the Florida resort, including around 100 classified documents. In addition to obstruction, prosecutors have stated that they are examining possible breaches of the Espionage Act, which regulates sensitive material, and a provision mandating the transfer of White House records to the National Archives.
Last month, a federal court appointed an impartial arbitrator to assess the records collected during the search at the request of the Trump campaign. The attorneys for Mr. Trump want the secret records to be included in the special master’s review. Still, the Justice Department opposes this request, stating that it needs urgent access to them for its investigation. After a judgment by an appeals court narrowed the special master’s review, the Supreme Court is presently reviewing a request by the Trump team to intervene in the case.
Tuesday, the Justice Department requested the Supreme Court dismiss Mr. Trump’s request, reaffirming that he had no right access to about 100 secret materials. In its answer, it stated: The petitioner has no reasonable claim of privilege or ownership over classified government records. As the court of appeals acknowledged, the petitioner has no grounds to request a special-master examination of those documents.
The Supreme Court responded on Thrusday by rejecting Trump’s legal team’s plea.
The argument over the documents dates back to early 2021 when National Archives and Records Administration employees approached the former president’s administration asking for the return of missing presidential records. In January, fifteen crates of items were recovered from Mar-a-Lago. Additional materials were provided by Mr. Corcoran in June and discovered by the FBI in August.
Concerns were raised about why dozens of files, including more than 40 designated secret or sporting classified flags, were empty when the FBI confiscated them in August, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Previously, investigators stated in court filings that they discovered evidence that federal data were likely hidden and taken from the storage facility where Mr. Trump’s attorneys had promised him earlier this year that all of the documents were kept.
Ms. Bobb, a former anchor for One America News Network, resided in Florida and was introduced to Mr. Corcoran on June 2 by another Trump attorney, Boris Epshteyn. According to a person familiar with the encounter, Mr. Corcoran phoned her later that day to request assistance with certification.
The following day, they met with a small group of Justice Department officials at Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Trump stopped by to introduce himself. He told the federal officers, “I appreciate your work.” Anything you require, please let us know. Mr. Corcoran handed over an accordion folder holding 38 classified documents, including 17 designated as top secret, 16 as secret, and five more as confidential.
Mr. Trump’s staff has framed the day as one of cooperation. However, the Justice Department said Mr. Corcoran refused to allow agents to see the remaining boxes in the storage room to ensure they contained no secret materials.